Getting ready for work this morning I was listening to an interview with Kevin McHale. For those that don’t know, McHale was a great power forward in the NBA who played for the title-winning Celtics in the mid-eighties. I remember him well, tall and pale-skinned with a mop of dark hair, he seemed destined to play for the Irish themed Celtics. Later on he became a commentator, which was what the interview this morning wall about. It was a terrific interview.
Naturally, much of the conversation revolved around the current NBA finals series, which is coming to a crescendo. A good three or four minutes was spent discussing Kawhi’s buzzer-beater against the Phillies in the seventh game of that series.
It’s already a famous shot, but in time it will become one of those moments in folklore. The shot itself, the seconds ticking down to zero, the high degree of difficulty shooting from the corner with the Sixers tallest player, Embiid, guarding him. The ball had to loop high to get over him and landed on the front rim of the hoop, bouncing straight up the height of the backboard, and coming down on the same rim. This time it took a forward bounce, hitting the front of the rim on the far side, before plopping into the basket. Time has stopped, the crowd is hushed, the fate of two teams, two cities, all wrapped up in the bounce of the ball. It goes in, the crowd erupts, and the Raptors win by two.
As a pseudo-Sixers fan I wish it was otherwise, but Kawhi Leonard is one of my favourite players and really elevated his game in the playoffs. They went through and the Sixers went out, while in the other playoff series my number one team, the Celtics, went out to Milwaukee. I reckon the results would have been the opposite had the Celtics matched up on the Raptors, and the Sixers on the Bucks, but you play the game you’re given.
The Bucks now take on the Raptors for the Eastern divisional title. They’ll take on the winner of the Warriors/Trailblazers series in the west.
The Bucks/Raptors contest is enticing just to see Leonard go up against Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo is my pick for the MVP, though they’ll probably give it to Harden again (overrated in my book, but that’s another conversation). I reckon the Bucks will get up in six games and probably take on the Warriors.
The Western Conference finals is a different ball game with the two backcourts going up against each other. Curry is a hall of famer, but I loved Lillard both as a player and a personality. The Trailblazers have been brave and will take a game or two off the Warriors but can’t see them winning unless Kevin Durant – another great play-off player – doesn’t make it onto the court. I’d like to see the Blazers win the whole thing, but nah.
That would leave a Bucks/Warriors final. Warriors have been there so many times and won so often it’s hard to go against them. But, this time I reckon the Bucks might have a slight edge.
That’s what I’m thinking now, but it could be completely different. I’ll be watching. For mine, the NBA is one of the great competitions in the world and shits all over the other American sports.